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[lofo List] Eating local isn't trendy, it's common sense
Eating local isn't trendy, it's common sense
Posted By LINDA CRAGO
The buzz about local food is everywhere. There is no question that
food grown by your local farmer is healthier for you, the
environment and clearly for the farmers' financial well-being.
In Niagara, the banana belt of Canada, we are blessed with abundance
and our growers can grow an amazing variety of fruits and veggies to
keep us well fed virtually year-round.
The idea of eating locally is really nothing new. It is what people
have always done.
Out of necessity people grew their own food or ate what was easily
accessible to them. Local food was the norm. It was common sense.
But if you are like me, perhaps you are getting somewhat weary of it
all. I've now heard the term distavore used in jest to rebuke
They are tired of people looking in their grocery cart and sneering,
just before they hop in their gas guzzler and peel out of the
They are tired of going to foodie friends' homes or restaurants and
listening or reading for half an hour about the local roots of every
minor ingredient making up the ensuing feast.
They are tired of reading about all the different organizations you
can belong to that will assist you in your local food search.
I constantly ask myself why such a simple thing as eating great
local food has become so complicated and preachy. Can we please just
get on with the task at hand and eat?
When I think of the whole tangled web of local food advocacy
organizations in Niagara, my head spins. A fantastic line from a
song of that iconic folk singer John Prine comes to mind: "It don't
make no sense that common sense don't make no sense no more."
We now have all these paid positions for food advocacy, your tax
dollars and mine paying no doubt well-intentioned non-farmers to
promote local food.
Some organizations require a fee from the farmer to join. If you
don't join, you aren't promoted. It seems a bit silly because you
are still a farmer and you are still growing local food, but you
can't take advantage of these subsidized programs without doling out
And, of course, even when you join you likely won't see everyone
being promoted equally. Let's face it, some products are just a
little cooler to promote.
There is no indication in any of these directories that membership
is exclusive to those who have paid.
The assumption is that the list is comprehensive and inclusive.
If you haven't paid, your name appears nowhere.
You and your farm don't exist.
Ditto of course with restaurants and other local food purveyors.
Some not on the lists are the very best at dealing with farmers and
at promoting local food, having done it for years before it was the
trendy thing to do.
It just made sense.
So here's the question. Why is the money provided to support local
food efforts not doing anything to support the farmer on the farm
beyond promotion? Perhaps provide needed assistance to farmers to
enable them to grow more and distribute produce? For small farmers
like me, the struggle is the same as those looking for a job for the
first time. You can't get the job because you don't have experience.
But you can't get the experience because they won't give you the job.
As a small farmer, the only way I can grow my business is to get
help. And the only way I can afford more help, is if I produce more.
It's a vicious circle.
So when I hear talk about all the money being floated to these local
food organizations, I shake my head. Promotion is a great thing,
don't get me wrong, but if you grow food we should be hearing about
you regardless of your ability or desire to pay membership fees or
be associated with any particular organization. People want to know.
And if local food continues to grow in popularity, farmers could use
a bit of financial help to grow and keep up.
As for now, the best advertising for a farmer is showing up at a
farmers' market with a quality product. People will talk. Buying
locally involves stopping at roadside stands or farmers' markets
that may or may not be on a map, and forming relationships with the
people who grow your food. Not tapping away at a computer to see who
is a member of what.
Supporting local food is about supporting farmers. And there are
some superb ones in Niagara. May they grow and prosper.
Linda Crago is an avid seed saver and grows heirloom vegetables on
her farm in Wainfleet. She is a member of The Standard's community
Daryl H. Hepting, Ph.D.
Associate Professor * Computer Science Department * CW 308.22
University of Regina * Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S 0A2
email@example.com * http://www.cs.uregina.ca/~hepting
tel: (306) 585-5210 * fax: (306) 585-4745 * cell: (306) 596-6312
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